Enlarged Spleen (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Steven Doerr, MD
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
In this Article
- What is the spleen, and what is its function?
- What does the spleen look like, and where is it located in the body?
- What are the causes of an enlarged spleen?
- What type of pain, and where is the pain located with an enlarged spleen?
- What are other signs and symptoms of an enlarged spleen?
- How is the diagnosis of an enlarged spleen made?
- What is the treatment for an enlarged spleen?
- What complications are associated with an enlarged spleen?
- Can an enlarged spleen be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for someone with an enlarged spleen?
Can an enlarged spleen be prevented?
An enlarged spleen is the consequence of another underlying illness, most of which may not be anticipated or prevented. Liver disease due to alcohol abuse, which causes cirrhosis and portal hypertension, can be prevented. With alcohol use, moderation is the key and excessive drinking has very dangerous consequences both in the short and long term. Certain causes of viral hepatitis (for example, hepatitis B and hepatitis C), which can lead to cirrhosis also can be prevented by avoiding contact with body fluids from infected individuals. Hepatitis B can also be prevented through vaccination. Finally, certain infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and anaplasmosis can be prevented if the appropriate measures are taken to minimize the risks of acquiring the disease.
What is the prognosis for someone with an enlarged spleen?
Often, the prognosis for an enlarged spleen depends entirely upon the underlying illness. For example, in patients with infectious mononucleosis, the spleen will return to its normal size once the infection resolves.
In some instances, the spleen may need to be removed and the risk of infection may increase. In other cases, the spleen will remain enlarged and leave the patient at increased risk for bleeding, spleen rupture, and infection.
REFERENCE: Rakel RE, Rakel DR. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th edition. Saunders. 2011.
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